Coronavirus latest: US disease control agency urges safer practices at polling stations

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Updated at 10/25/2020, 5:26:48 PM BST

UK government pandemic approval rating falls to 29%

Approval of the UK government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has fallen to its lowest level since March, a poll indicates.

The Opinium Research poll showed just 29 per cent of British adults approved of the way the government has handled the pandemic, with 50 per cent disapproving.

While the poll showed approval of the financial support offered during the pandemic – 43 per cent while 26 per cent disapprove – more than 40 per cent think economic support for people and businesses should go further.

Only 32 per cent approve of how prime minister Boris Johnson has handled his role in this crisis, while 47 per cent disapprove.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has a 46 per cent approval rate, with 26 per cent disapproving, while Labour leader Keir Starmer scored 35 per cent approval and 29 per cent disapproval.

Younger people are struggling to uphold social distancing and other pandemic-related rules, with 17 per cent of those younger than 45 saying they are either “not really” or “not at all” following the rules, up from 10 per cent a fortnight ago.

Opinium carried out an online survey of 2,002 UK adults on October 22 and 23.

US CDC urges safer practices at polling stations

George Russell in Hong Kong

As the US prepares to choose a president on November 3, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged election officials to beef up polling place safety.

In a paper published over the weekend, the CDC surveyed the September primary election in Democratic Party presidential contender Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware.

The CDC, in its latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, said responses from primary election poll workers demonstrate the feasibility of implementing social distancing and other measures, but cautioned that safety gaps remain.

“[The results] highlight the large number of persons poll workers have close contact with, as well as gaps in infection prevention, including ensuring correct mask use and providing training and personal protective equipment to poll workers assisting ill voters,” they wrote.

Democratic party presidential candidate Joe Biden wears a mask as he leaves a television interview in Wilmington, Delaware

Delaware, a Democratic stronghold, reported a high level of mask wearing since April, when the state government mandated their use in public places.

In a July survey, about 79 per cent of people in the state reported always wearing a mask in public when in close contact with others.

The new survey data, compiled by a team led by Eva Leidman of the CDC Covid-19 Response Team and Noemi Hall of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, indicate that the majority of both voters and election workers wore masks at polling places during the September primary, the CDC said.

“However, the substantial proportion of respondents who reported observing incorrect mask use by voters (i.e., masks not covering the nose and mouth) suggests that further messaging on proper mask use, including at polling locations, might be needed to strengthen the effectiveness of masks during upcoming elections,” the researchers wrote.

UK banks raise rates to stifle home loan boom

Jim Pickford, Nicholas Megaw, Stephen Morris and George Hammond in London

UK banks are turning away mortgage business by increasing interest rates on many new home loans, as they struggle to cope with surging demand for borrowing in a buoyant post-lockdown housing market.

In a reversal of the cut-throat competition of recent years, lenders are putting up rates to deter potential borrowers, as coronavirus restrictions have left many staff working from home, limiting their capacity to process applications.

A temporary stamp duty holiday that offers purchasers a tax saving of up to £15,000 has fuelled a V-shaped recovery in the housing market since May. Buyers are hurrying to progress deals now so they can complete before the nine-month holiday ends on March 31 2021.

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The Netherlands and Austria will send 120 ventilators to the Czech Republic, which is reporting record levels of new Covid-19 cases, the European Commission said. The Dutch are providing 105 machines, while Austria is sending 15 ventilators and 30 high-flow nasal oxygen therapy devices. Last week, Prague called for 150 ventilators to meet the surge.

Singapore’s health ministry said it would test all employees of Changi Airport Terminal 3 after a security officer and a health worker tested positive for coronavirus. “Both cases were detected under our enhanced community testing,” the ministry said in a statement. “While both cases work at [the terminal] they had not interacted with each other,” the ministry noted.

Dubai’s government announced a Dh500m ($136m) stimulus package over the weekend aimed at reviving small businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The latest cash injection brings the total value of Covid-19-related stimulus for the second-largest of the United Arab Emirates to Dh6.8bn.

The autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao has the lowest infection rate in the country, the official Philippine News Agency reported on Sunday. Ameril Usman, acting regional health minister, attributed the low rate to “prompt reporting” and community engagement. Dr Usman said the region has recorded 1,538 Covid-19 cases as of Friday.

Franklin Templeton is on track to end 2020 with the highest year-to-date outflows of any asset management company globally, bleeding a net $41.6bn, according to Morningstar data. The coronavirus market shock also forced the fund house to liquidate six Indian mutual funds managing $3bn of assets.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, insists the nation is making progress in tackling coronavirus as she set out plans for a five-tier system of alerts for different areas, along with support for businesses forced to close or reduce activities. She said slower rise in infections in recent weeks was a cause for optimism.

Foreign debt investors have flocked back into Egypt, reversing billions of dollars of outflows sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the country’s finance minister, Mohamed Maait. He said foreign investors now held more than $20bn in debt, reflecting confidence in the only regional economy that has grown this year.

US folk singer Arlo Guthrie has retired from touring after the pandemic interrupted a planned comeback following a stroke he suffered in 2016. He announced in a Facebook post that he would no longer perform live. “Going from town to town and doing stage shows, remaining on the road is no longer an option,” Mr Guthrie wrote.

China-led bank to lend $300m to Russian Railways

A medical worker checks the temperature of a passenger from Beijing at the Yaroslavsky railway station in Moscow

The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will lend Rbs22.8bn ($300m) to Russian Railways to tide the state-run agency over the coronavirus pandemic.

The AIIB said the loan to RZD, as the group is known, would “help alleviate the temporary liquidity constraints” caused by the decline of long-haul passenger demand.

RZD’s passenger totals have fallen as much as 70 per cent below normal in some months of this year. The AIIB lifeline would help preserve jobs at the railway company, the bank said.

“Railway services … remain a socially significant and the most affordable means of transport for millions of citizens,” said Konstantin Limitovskiy, the bank’s vice-president of investment operations.